Joint statement: Qatari lawyers sentenced to life imprisonment
24 May 2022

Joint statement: Qatari lawyers sentenced to life imprisonment


In a joint statement, Lawyers for Lawyers expresses grave concern about the sentencing to life imprisonment of Qatari lawyers Hazza bin Ali Abu Shurayda al-Marri and Rashed bin Ali Abu Shurayda al-Marri by the Second Circuit Criminal Court of Qatar on 10 May 2022.

On 29 July 2021, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani ratified law No. (6) of 2021 that paved the way for the first elections of the country’s legislative body, the Shura Council. In early 2021, hundreds of tribe members, mainly from the al-Murra tribe, peacefully protested in widescale protests against their exclusion from the Shura Council elections.

Lawyer Hazza bin Ali Abu Shurayda al-Marri took part in the protests and played a prominent role in sharing his opinions on the state of affairs in Qatar on his Twitter account. On 8 August 2021, he tweeted a video-recorded appeal directed to the Emir of Qatar in which he criticised the Shura elections law. In another video, he called on fellow protestors from his tribe to demand the Qatari government to release the detainees that were arrested after taking part in the protests. On 10 August 2021, members of the Criminal Investigation Department arrested Hazza al-Marri at his home.

Subsequently, Hazza bin Ali Abu Shurayda al-Marri’s brother, Rashed bin Ali Abu Shurayda al-Marri visited the Public Prosecution offices to enquire about the reasons for the arrest of his brother and to request access to act as his legal representative. Rashed bin Ali Abu Shurayda al-Marri was then summoned to appear before the Public Prosecution on 11 August 2021, where he was immediately detained. Both lawyers were held by the cybercrime department until 22 August 2021. After that date, they were transferred to a State Security detention facility where they were held in solitary confinement.

Both lawyers stood trial for the first time on 26 January 2022, during which the judge appointed a defence lawyer for them, leaving the lawyers without the opportunity to appoint a lawyer of their own choosing. The first hearing and the subsequent hearings that took place on 22 February, 8 March and 10 May 2022 all took place behind closed doors.

On 10 May 2022, the Second Circuit Criminal issued a life sentence against both lawyers. The court convicted the lawyers and two activists that also stood trial on a set of charges, including: “resorting to threats and other illegal means to compel the Emir to perform work within his legal jurisdiction”, “spreading false and malicious rumors and news at home and abroad with the intent of harming national interests”, “promoting, broadcasting and disseminating, through information technology means, incorrect news with the intent of endangering the safety of the state and its public order”, “stirring up public opinion and compromising the state’s social order”, and “organising a public assembly without a license”. According to the information received, the trial lacked minimum standards for fair trial and legal procedures.

The undersigned organisations are deeply concerned that the life sentences issued against Hazza bin Ali Abu Shurayda al-Marri and Rashed bin Ali Abu Shurayda al-Marri are connected to, and serve to unlawfully restrict, their legitimate activities as attorneys and the exercise of their right to freedom of expression. In the statement, the organisation call upon the Qatari authorities to release the lawyers and expunge all convictions against them.

The statement was co-signed by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, MENA Rights Group, and UIA-IROL (The Institute for the Rule of Law of the International Association of Lawyers.

Click here to read the full statement. The statement in Arabic can be found here.

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